Silent SARS-CoV-2 Infections, Waning Immunity, Serology Testing, and COVID-19 Vaccination: A Perspective

Madhusudhanan Narasimhan, Lenin Mahimainathan, Jungsik Noh, Alagarraju Muthukumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus causes a spectrum of clinical manifestations, ranging from asymptomatic to mild, moderate, or severe illness with multi-organ failure and death. Using a new machine learning algorithm developed by us, we have reported a significantly higher number of predicted COVID-19 cases than the documented counts across the world. The sole reliance on confirmed symptomatic cases overlooking the symptomless COVID-19 infections and the dynamics of waning immunity may not provide ‘true’ spectrum of infection proportion, a key element for an effective planning and implementation of protection and prevention strategies. We and others have previously shown that strategic orthogonal testing and leveraging systematic data-driven modeling approach to account for asymptomatics and waning cases may situationally have a compelling role in informing efficient vaccination strategies beyond prevalence reporting. However, currently Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend serological testing either before or after vaccination to assess immune status. Given the 27% occurrence of breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated (FV) group with many being asymptomatics and still a larger fraction of the general mass remaining unvaccinated, the relaxed mask mandate and distancing by CDC can drive resurgence. Thus, we believe it is a key time to focus on asymptomatics (no symptoms) and oligosymptomatics (so mild that the symptoms remain unrecognized) as they can be silent reservoirs to propagate the infection. This perspective thus highlights the need for proactive efforts to reevaluate the current variables/strategies in accounting for symptomless and waning fractions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number730404
JournalFrontiers in immunology
StatePublished - Sep 21 2021


  • COVID-19
  • asymptomatic
  • serology testing
  • vaccination
  • waning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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